Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) diverted 15,000 metric tons rice consignment to Niger, which was dispatched for Cuba, reportedly due to quarantine issue. However, a high-level TCP official claimed that the shipment had been diverted on the advice of the federal government, as Niger was seeking the commodity on urgent basis.
Presently, several African countries are facing severe food crisis due to drought, therefore, on humanitarian ground Pakistan announced to supply rice to Cuba and Niger to avert food crisis in these two countries.
The federal government asked TCP for supply of 15,000 metric tons (including 5,000 metric tons Super Basmati and 10,000 metric tons Long Grain White Rice-IRRI-6) to Cuba and some 15,000 metric tons Long Grain White Rice (IRRI-6) to Niger as a gift from people of Pakistan.
In the first phase, state-run grain trader procured some 10,000 metric tons Long Grain White Rice (IRRI-6) and 5,000 metric tons Super Basmati from domestic traders and accordingly, dispatched for Cuba. A ship namely Mv Moleson carrying 15,000 metric tons rice set off for Cuba on January 16, 2016 from Pakistan.
Sources said that despite several requests, Pakistan High Commission in Cuba did not communicate proper details of quarantine protocols of Cuba and after departure of the vessel from Pakistan, it was revealed that quarantine protocols of Cuba were not fulfilled completely.
Therefore, in order to avoid a dispute on quarantine issue, TCP with the consultation of federal government diverted the same consignment to Niger. Accordingly, shipping company was advised for supply of 15,000 tons rice consignment to Niger instead of Cuba.
As the Niger has no seaport, the ship was berthed at Cotonou seaport of Benin, where discharging was completed in the last week of February and accordingly the commodity was dispatched to Niger. Interestingly, besides flag of Pakistan, a message “Gift from People of Pakistan to the people Cuba”, is also clearly written on these bags, being supplied to Niger.
A TCP official has confirmed the diversion of destination from Cuba to Niger and said that the shipment had been diverted on the directives of the federal government. “Cuba has not rejected Pakistani rice consignment and we have diverted the ship on the directives of the federal government,” the official said.
He said that after the rice shipment was sent to Cuba, the federal government suddenly asked the TCP for early supply of rice to Niger as it required the commodity on most urgent basis. Therefore, following the directives of the federal government, the state run grain trader advised the shipping company for supply of some of the consignment to Niger instead of Cuba, he added. “We have fulfilled all the requirements for Cuba and there was no issue of quarantine,” TCP official claimed.
Sources said that TCP had not yet initiated procumbent of rice for Cuba and now the process would begin after the arrival of two representatives of Cuba’s quarantine department. “Basmati rice is expansive commodity compared to Irri-6 and it was decided that only Irri-6 will be supplied to Niger, however with diversion of ship, high quality 5,000 tons basmati rice has been delivered to Niger,” they added. The diversion of ship and supply of basmati rice to Niger will increase the federal government’s cost, they added.
Source: Business Recorder